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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday Rugby News has Steve Hansen playing mind games, Cheika having a succession plan, a PRO12 solution for South Africa and  a legend of French rugby retiring.


“Gat” and Mouse games begin

hansen_reuters

All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen has started up the mind games, after Warren Gatland announced his squad for the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

In an interview with TVNZ, Hansen heaped plenty of praise on the selections, stating “”It’s going to be a very good side that come with a lot of expectation.”

“It’ll be interesting to see how they cope with that… People expect them to win.”

“I think they’ll try and beat us up first. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from Warren, he likes his big ball carriers in the middle of the park. I’d expect we’ll get a similar game style to what we’ve always got when we’ve played a Warren Gatland team.”

While Hansen seemed to put the pressure on the Lions that it is expected they’ll win, he didn’t shy away from the fact that this team has the potential to be one the biggest challenges to date for his All Blacks side.

Quite frankly, considering they’ve beaten the living daylights out of 90% of the rugby world, a competitive series is really all we are asking for. Either that’ll happen or the All Blacks will flog them senseless.

The Lions tour kicks off on June 3, with them coming up against the All Blacks for their first match at Eden Park on June 24.

PRO12 to the Rescue?

Deon Davids

If you thought things were going batshit crazy here in regards to Super Rugby, spare a thought for what’s happening in South Africa.

In the efforts to try and keep the Cheetahs and Southern Kings playing rugby, former Southern Spears chief executive Tony McKeever has floated the idea of the two teams joining the PRO12 competition next season.

Speaking to Herald Live, McKeever actually made it seem like a good idea:

“With the size of the Currie Cup and Super Rugby squads, both the Cheetahs and EP Rugby could easily accommodate this schedule and start playing in September.”

“The addition of two South African Super Rugby teams would not only increase TV viewership [for the PRO12] but also on-site audiences coming to Bloemfontein and the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to watch their teams play against teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.”

However, before you get your hopes up, McKeever still said that nothing is confirmed yet.

“I have spoken to new EP Rugby president Andre Rademan about this and talks are ongoing.”

Cheiks Got a Plan!

michael cheika

From one coach to another… Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has announced that he is planning a line of succession for the next coach for the Wallabies.

In a frankly bizarre article with Fox Sports, Cheika went from talking about Beyonce to coach selection, and admitted that a successful coach handover (that the Kiwis have perfected) was something he began to embrace:

“I reckon that we haven’t looked enough at building proper succession and planning for the future. So every time it comes — a new coach — and then ‘oh let’s change everything and let’s do everything different’ and we’ve got no carry on. Like it was when I picked it up.”

He admitted that he doesn’t see himself leading the Wallabies beyond the 2019 World Cup, but that he does envisage who he wants taking up the coaching role next.

“I think it’s obvious in Stephen [Larkham] we’re looking to groom the next coach. I don’t hesitate in saying that. Now obviously things have to fall into place for that and I think it’s my job to make sure the team plays really well between now and 2019… My job is to do the best I can with this team and also start to prepare the next guys.”

Finally, some positive coaching news! That being said, Daryl Gibson took over from Cheika at the Tahs so anything could happen. 

Au-revoir, Dusautoir!

Former France captain Thierry Dusautoir will officially hang up the boots at the end of the current European Cup season.

Speaking at a conference at Toulouse, Dusautoir said he was very emotional, but not sad.

“It is a very special moment, full of emotion for me but there is no sadness since I am going to start a second life as a businessman.”

A legend of the game in France, he captained Les Bleus a record 56 times, and was named World Player of the Year in 2011. This was also the year he led the French to a World Cup final, and was single-handedly responsible for nearly giving the entire population of New Zealand a heart attack.

While he didn’t taste World Cup success, he won two French titles with Biarritz, and three with Toulouse (along with the European Cup in 2010). He finishes his career with 80 caps, and is widely regarded as one of the best players ever to come out of France, and one of the best flankers ever to play the game.

Thanks for the memories Destroyer.

  • paul

    Noticed Wayne Smith in the Australian virtually claiming that Super rugby will more than likely be dissolved come 2020 when the current broadcast deal ends. its all getting rather messy.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Didn’t see that one mate. Where was that?

      • paul

        Behind a paywall, quite speculative but hints at Super rugby being
        dismantled but the Tests remaining

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Interesting. Not sure if there is any alternative that will pay enough to keep the players here. Personally while I see it changing I dont see it going

        • paul

          That’s the catch 22 though, right now in Australia, the current model (super rugby) which is designed primarily for retaining Wallabies here is effectively also destroying the game at the same time.

          The cost of having super rugby here is ultimately killing the game.

        • Dally M

          We have a unique market here in OZ with intense competition for the domestic viewer which Super Rugby in it’s current form does very little to cater for. NZ and South Africa don’t have those same challenges. As a Tahs member, I remember it took about 4 years before SANZAAR finally relented and stopped scheduling a home game the same night as the Sydney LGTBI Mardi Gras parade. It took about as long to get a Sunday afternoon game.

          If SANZAAR are serious about long term sustainability they need to acknowledges the challenges faced in the Australian market and take steps to help address some of them rather than just turn their back and look upon it as just an OZ problem, because ultimately it affects them too.

          Of course the ARU also need to get their shit together.

          Short term pain for a long term sustainable solution is needed and the pain of cutting teams is not going to do that.

        • Kevino

          Totally Agree Dally M,

          How many years of Friday night home games did not help the Rebels. First 4 years we had only 3 games out of 32 not on a Friday night.

          Good way to attract family’s, supporters who work out of the city etc. They wonder why they struggled to break into the market, don’t see blockbusters in Melbourne on a Friday, AFL does not do it, Storm does not do it. The sports precinct is a traffic night mare in peak.

          Last year we finally had a reasonable season so this year we have some actual Saturday games in Melbourne.

        • paul

          Daily M, agree with your sentiments Super rugby has long stopped working for the code here. Sadly we have not had the leadership to do anything about it.

          Essentially the problem with Super rugby with the change from amateur status was everything changed but nothing really did.

          What has frustrated me so much was that it was clear from literally day one that they needed to go to closed conferences, WHY, was this not pursued, we are now left with a f______g mess, to the extent that now we might as well pull out and and finally face reality.

          As you say short term pain for long term gain.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I dont think its just super rugby. I think its a mistake to compete against the growth of league, AFL and soccer in areas where rugby isn’t represented well. The money should be spent in making rugby stronger where its already entrenched. I also think rugby here suffers from colloquial state and club loyalties that are preventing a central strategic plan being put in place.

        • Missing Link

          Look at what Cricket did with the Big Bash. They dissolved each states T20 side and started again, removed all club and state loyalties and 5 years later, with the help of free to air coverage, they have a money maker.

          I know it’s hard to swallow but the only way this is going to work is if the Waratahs and Reds are dissolved and you have something like this:

          Brisbane City
          Sydney Stars
          QLD Country
          Western Sydney Rams
          Canberra Brumbies
          Melbourne Rebels
          Perth Force

          If SA defect to a northern hemisphere comp, expand NZ to 7 teams (add Hawke’s Bay/Taranaki and Southland) to form a new Super 14 comp. Top 6 finals, no conferences – if we end up with 6 NZ teams in the finals, tough shit, better luck next year.

          Any player playing in any team in this comp would be eligible for Wallaby selection.

          I don’t expect this to be popular, in fact it would probably make some people’s blood boil, but it’s the business model that the ARU and NZRU should be working towards.

        • Gun

          It’s a good idea if you add that any player in either country can play in any team and still represent their country, just like the NRL.

        • McWarren

          ML I’d agree if the following changes were included to team names:
          Brisbane Cane Toads
          Sydney Oysters
          Qld Country snakes
          Wester Sydney Sheep
          Canberra Ponies
          Melbourne Penguins
          Perth Bandicoots or Quolls

        • Missing Link

          Now that’s some lateral thinking. It’s amazing what the mind can fathom when the blinkers are removed. Something which the ARU board seem to struggle with.

        • Pearcewreck

          McW,
          Don’t you mean Perth Quockas.
          Every time they lost the headline writes itself, Quocka Shockers

        • Dally M

          What do you then do with the NRC and NPC?

          I don’t think it’s in the interests of Oz or NZ to dilute that middle tier of rugby.

          You have 5 Oz teams, 5 NZ teams, a team from Japan already up & running, the pacific islands maybe field teams if there is enough money from the IRB for them either playing out of their own country or based in Oz & NZ? I know Fiji are running a team out of the NRC this year.

          As you say though, they need to be prepared to take the initial hit financially to get it some traction. Not sure NZ are prepared to do that though as it has no benefit for them in the short to medium term.

        • lee enfield

          The NRC becomes the equivalent to the toyota cup or whatever it is now called for the NRL. A national reserve grade for the fringe /emerging talent

        • Dally M

          That’s your Shute Shield and Brisbane Premier Rugby

        • Missing Link

          Valid points Dally M, either way – the slate must be wiped clean. We must break down the state system and centralise in order to move in the same direction as NZRU did. Remember when Auckland and Canterbury were the successful teams and Waikato, Otago and Wellington weren’t that good? It reminds me of our setup.

        • Dally M

          Agree, that is long overdue for Oz rugby but cannot see that happening with the current mob we have running the game. They need to go ASAP and someone come in with a long term strategic plan and the support to see it out.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah but I think most of the issues are with the people running NSW and Queensland as they won’t give up their power and influence to the ARU. They seem more interested in their own little neck of the woods than they are about Australia as a whole

        • Pearcewreck

          Yep DM, NZ are the problem. Why would they take the risk?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          You definitely have some good points. Be interesting how it will all pan out

        • Andrew Luscombe

          SA also needs 7 or 8 teams to match their markets. The Kings for example have drawn over 40,000 to games (2013), and when the Springboks play there they get 45,000. There is a genuine large market in Port Elizabeth for a competitive team, but not, as we saw last year, for a second division Currie Cup team playing against SR teams.

          If Aus has 7 or 8 teams and SA has 7 or 8 teams, then by player strength NZ would need about 12 teams to balance team quality without moving large numbers of players from NZ. Basically, that is the current highest domestic comps of Aus and SA, and both divisions of NZ – the teams already exist in the markets that need teams. Adding a SH equivalent of the European Championship to the domestic comps (and replacing domestic teams by their SR equivalents where there is a one-to-one match e.g. Rebels replace Rising) would be a much more marketable version of SR that could be kept in competitive balance by universal salary caps. Central contracting of players can keep a reasonable number of high status players from Europe.

        • Pearcewreck

          I pretty much agree AL.

        • Dally M

          I can’t see how you can keep it with all the problems it has, that there seems to be no appetite to solve.

          18 teams is still doable provided you play everyone on a home one year, away next basis, scrap the conferences and have the top teams make the finals, however the main block to this is South Africa who will not give up the guaranteed final spots. Surely that would have been an easier sell than getting them to cut 2 teams.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          The biggest problem is the teams aren’t competitive. The out of order ladder makes the lack of equality obvious. There are a number of fixes that can be borrowed from other sports.

        • Dally M

          That’s up to the ARU and SARU to solve.

          Oz are seeing a lot of players coming back from overseas now, but need to sort out coaching and skills across all the teams.
          SARU are making moves to stop the player drain from overseas as well by implementing their own Giteau law but at 30 tests.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Agree there’s things the ARU and SARU can do, but ultimately it is Super Rugby’s responsibility as a whole to ensure its competition is competitive. Every professional sports league outside of rugby puts things in place to make their teams competitive.

        • Dally M

          True, but they are mostly domestic competitions where the ruling body makes decisions in the best interest of that competition whereas here we have 3 nations all trying to get what they need at the expense of what’s good for the competition as a whole.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I agree. 18 teams can be workable if they’d changed the shit conference system. Dont know why this wasn’t looked at

        • Dally M

          Blame the SARU predominantly for that and to a lesser extent OZ.

          South Africa want the conferences and the guaranteed finals, whilst OZ are happy to keep them for the fact that they get more local derbies which supposedly rate well. Again they are living in the past as these are no longer decent games with the odd exception

    • Dally M

      It’s the only way to untangle this hell of a mess we are now in.

      We all know cutting 3 teams will not solve the problems with Super Rugby that will continue, provided of course they can even get to cut the 3 teams. With all the legal action being talked about would it surprise anyone that both Oz & South Africa go back to SANZAAR & tell them the cost of cutting their teams will outweigh any savings they would gain by doing so, and thus the 18 team current disaster rolls on to 2020.

      Then we might see the Super Rugby dissolved and each country focus on a model that is best for the game. As much as NZ say they have no appetite for a trans-tasman comp & want to continue games against South Africa, in reality it’s the money that South Africa brings in that they really want. They are not stupid enough to think that to continue a comp against South Africa & without Australia would be better than the mess we have now. Half the games in an unwatchable time slot & the extra travel would mean it’s less financially viable than the current model.

      It will be difficult to come up with something that will at least give each country what it needs to continue and grow the game but surely someone can come up with an idea that will sell over the next 3 years.

      • Ryanno

        I would love to see a bit of analysis of what it costs to send super rugby teams from Oz & NZ to SA and Arg Vs what foxtel would pay for a trans tasman comp (including Tokyo & Fiji).
        The travel costs for sending teams and accommodating them in the SA for weeks at a time must be eye watering, not to mention that the viewing numbers from Oz & NZ for games played overnight in SA are tiny.

  • jay-c

    Even better than succession planning, I’d like to see a long term coach. Starting again every 4 years isn’t allowing enough time, I’d rather see an Alex ferguson (wishful I know) style era where the coach has enough time to improve and learn on the job.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    And let the mind games begin.
    Really looking forward to the challenges of this tour

    • Dud Roodt

      Fuck, we’re going to have to hear from that fucking bloke non stop for a few months aren’t we?

      • Tomthusiasm

        If the ARU has bugged his home then yes.

      • Missing Link

        I wish there was a mute button for his idle monotone mumblings

        • Dud Roodt

          He strikes me as someone who would make a lot of noise while breathing. You know the people you sometimes sit next to and you can hear every gargled breath?

        • Nutta

          Bloody Mouth-Breathers.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mate we’ll get him, Cheika, the lions entire management circus, Eddie Jones and anyone else the media can get to say something they can then spin as controversial to get some headlines

        • LoveThePoop

          We won’t see Chekia taking cheap shots if the AB’s lose a couple games like Hansen did last year

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Maybe. Let’s wait and see. Personally I think some journalist will ask him a question and then sway the answer to make it sound contentious.
          Not a fan of journalists in case you didnt pick up on it.

      • McWarren

        Do you mean Hansen or KRL?

        • Dud Roodt

          Hansen.
          Always got time for KRL… well, almost always

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahaha ba-boom!

      • Keith Butler

        No escape. Coaches should just STFU with mind games crap and get on with the job they’re paid to do

  • Andrew Luscombe

    Last Friday’s statement by the Rebels indicates that the ARU board isn’t in fact entitled to decide how many teams Aus has in Super Rugby. It is up to the ARU voting members to vote. It requires an almost unanimous vote i.e. all except the expelled ARU member. So Rugby WA has to vote to cut the Force, or the Victorian RU has to vote to cut the Rebels.

    Maybe the whole cutting of teams is off. Be interesting if Aus doesn’t cut a team, but SA has sent two teams to the Pro14. An alternative way to balance Super Rugby is for NZ to get two extra teams, provided NZ spreads their players. Not sure much though has gone into that.

    There’s still a lot to play out here.

    • Keith Butler

      I said it tongue in cheek a few weeks ago. NZ could easily create another franchise with their player base. Keep both the Rebels and the Force and only drop 1 SA team. Six teams in 3 conferences – sorted.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      NZ can’t do 2 extra teams

      • Andrew Luscombe

        Why not? They tendered for a sixth team before when previous expansions were on the cards.

        • Tomthusiasm

          Yep, Taranaki made a bid along with Rebels and, I assume, the Kings. I think there could be a case for the Naki in an alternate world but they only have a population of 116k. It’s a shame as a lot of the smaller unions get shafted by the NZ franchises for games. Also, why don’t Aussie franchises play a regular season game in other cities? Reds could play Gold Coast, Tahs could play Newcastle etc. I know they play pre-season matches in other areas but aren’t they supposed to represent the entire state?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          And I’m glad that didn’t happen. They haven’t got enough players and would end up with either diluting the teams there now or having a team consistently fail and neither of those are good options

      • Tomthusiasm

        Interesting article on creating two divisions: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/opinion/91684154/creating-a-second-division-in-super-rugby-better-than-culling-teams

        One issue would be teams getting relegated wouldn’t get to play their rival domestic teams in the top division, which wouldn’t work here as Aussie rugby fans love Aussie derbys. I reckon the Mitre 10 Cup promotion/relegation style could potentially work as there are crossover matches.

        • Dally M

          They money would not be there for the relegated teams to pay the players they had on contract.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Depends how the TV money is divided, and it depends on the schedule (there may be some matches between divisions, and with a final 8 the lower division may get one finals spot) . There may also be something like the UK’s RL second phase of the season where teams switch from 2 divisions of 12 to 3 divisions of 8. There may be mid season promotion and relegation after a single round robin. Two divisions doesn’t necessarily mean the teams in the lower division have no theoretical chance at the start of the season.

          But given the current attitude of Aus rugby fans and media, making the lower status of Aus teams official with a lower division could be more of a negative than the positives that might result from more competitive games. It’s hard to tell, and therefore risky.

  • Brendan Hume

    Dusautoir – one of the best… His RWC Final in 2011 was incredible. An absolute beast in a team that struggled for consistency on the paddock and in it’s management.

    • McWarren

      One of the great pleasures of living in the NH for 8 years was getting to see Dusautoir play live at least twice a year. At a game in Toulouse the crowd went mental every time he touched the ball, and rightly so as well, he was nearly always in line for MOTM honours.

    • Duvstar
  • McWarren

    Anyone else notice the comparative difference between the Netballers response to board room shenanigans and the lame response by our players to the fact 20% of them will be made redundant next year? It would seem the netballers have a bigger set then our rugby players?

  • Alister Smith

    OK so if SA has a plan for their team could we do something with our team that misses out? enter them in the Japanese comp?

    If the two SA teams in the Pro-League are successful (and they would play all their games in their own time zone so it is possible that they would be followed perhaps more than the Super teams) is it likely that this could lead to all SA teams eventually leaving SANZAAR at least for the provincial side of it

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@Nick_Wasiliev

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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